LONDON — Barbour’s managing director Steve Buck issued a statement Monday saying that the firm is “disappointed” that it has not been able to reach an agreement with the Unite trade union over new shift patterns for employees at its warehouse in Gateshead, northern England.

 

As reported, members of the union voted last week to extend their initial strike in December to run from Jan. 5 through 30. The strikes came as the British outerwear firm planned to make changes to their contracts, which Unite said involved removing an unsocial hours payment and requiring employees to work until 11 p.m. on alternate weeks.

 

“We have been in consultation with our warehouse employees since May 2014 and have done everything possible to resolve their concerns,” said Buck, who noted that of the 160 employees in the warehouse, 65 are union members and of those 33 voted for the strike action.

 

Buck said the two new shifts, to cover a time period of between 7 a.m. and 10.30 p.m., had been negotiated with the union. “We have offered a generous 10 percent pay increase to move to this new way of working, which offers warehouse staff a higher rate of income for every hour that they work,” he said.

 

He noted that the change in shift patterns responded to the firm’s “need to evolve with modern day working practices that are common to the industry in order to remain competitive and meet expanding customer demand.”

 

Last week, Fazia Hussain-Brown, Unite’s regional officer, told WWD that the union had proposed to Barbour that those members with caring responsibilities be allowed to work day-time shifts, and that those who work into the evening were awarded an unsocial hours payment.

 

Buck said that the warehouse employees had been notified of the proposals in May last year, and that the changes would come into effect at the end of March. He also said that “many” of Barbour’s staff were supportive of the changes and called the strike action “divisive.”

 

“We will continue to work hard to resolve this during the consultation period,” said Buck.

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